What is the difference between Drip coffee and Espresso

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Johny Morrisson

The main difference is Drip coffee involves slowly filtering water through ground coffee in an automatic drip machine or manual pour-over. This process produces a mellow and smooth coffee drink. And Espresso is pressurized brewing methods that quickly extract a concentrated shot from finely ground beans, resulting in an intense coffee with crema on top.

So which reigns supreme? That’s a heated debate with no clear winner as it depends on personal taste preferences. Are you after a quick jolt or a relaxing sipping experience? Let’s dive into the nitty-gritty of espresso and drip coffee.

Espresso vs Drip coffee

An Overview of Espresso

Espresso is a concentrated form of coffee that is brewed by forcing hot pressurized water at 9-10 bars through very finely ground coffee beans.

This pressurized brewing method results in a small and concentrated 1-ounce shot crowned with a stunning light brown layer of crema in just 20-30 seconds.

Espresso coffee

The intense flavor, rich aroma, and high caffeine concentration of espresso make it a strong beverage that may not appeal to everyone, but it is for these attributes that espresso is highly regarded.

Most of your favorite coffee drinks including Latte, Americanos, and Cappuccinos are made with an espresso shot as a base.

According to the Specialty Coffee Association, the definition of Espresso is:

Espresso is a 25–35ml (.85–1.2 ounce [×2 for double]) beverage prepared from 7–9 grams (14–18 grams for a double) of coffee through which clean water of 195°–205°F (90.5°–96.1°C) has been forced at 9–10 atmospheres of pressure, and where the grind of the coffee is such that the brew time is 20–30 seconds. While brewing, the flow of espresso will appear to have the viscosity of warm honey and the resulting beverage will exhibit a thick, dark golden crema. Espresso should be prepared specifically for and immediately served to its intended consumer.”

Speciality Coffee Association

An Overview of Traditional Drip Coffee

Drip coffee is a brewing technique that involves pouring hot water over ground coffee carefully placed in a filter. As the water passes through the coffee grounds, it delicately captures their flavors and aromas that gracefully drips into a pot or carafe.

This popular and straightforward process involves a more extended extraction process compared to espresso, resulting in a complex and often larger serving of coffee.

Drip coffee

Drip coffee is famous for its nuanced aroma and balanced flavor. It is incredibly common, affordable, and easy to make.

Unlike espresso, the brewing method of drip coffee doesn’t require precise attention to the process. Anyone can make this coffee, one just needs the drip coffee maker.

The taste of Espresso vs Drip coffee

Espresso has much stronger and more intense flavors with a very thick body whereas drip coffee offers a smooth, mellow taste and a crisp, clean mouthfeel.

In Espresso, the high-pressure extraction brings out the natural oils and strong flavors from the beans. You taste deeper chocolate and caramel notes, with a pleasant lingering bitterness on the back of the tongue. The crema adds texture and amplifies the aroma too.

Drip coffee gently coaxes out the delicate fruity and floral nuances of the beans. There’s no bitter aftertaste, just a blend of aromatic compounds offering vibrant acidity and a delightfully bright finish. Flavors of berries, citrus, and herbs really shine, letting you leisurely enjoy coffee in its purest form especially when made with the manual pour-over method.

For a simple black coffee drink, I always prefer Pour Over or Drip Coffee over Espresso as it is smooth and full of complex coffee flavors that the quick espresso brewing just can’t match.

Does Espresso Contain less Caffeine than Drip Coffee?

For a single-shot espresso, the serving size is 1-1.25 ounces, and a double shot espresso is 2-2.25 ounces. On the other hand, the regular serving of drip coffee is somewhere between 6 to 10 oz.

As for caffeine content, it largely depends on the type and roast of the beans used. A single shot of espresso typically contains 60-70 mg of caffeine, while an 8-ounce cup of coffee contains 65-120 mg.

A single shot of espresso contains less caffeine than a typical cup of drip coffee, but the concentration makes it feel stronger. Drip lovers get a more gradual caffeine release over multiple sips while in Espresso you get the whole 60 mg in 1-2 sips.

Which is more Versatile?

A drip coffee machine is a versatile tool that can be used to prepare a variety of coffee drinks, including iced coffee, Cafe Au Lait, and even some dessert recipes.

However, espresso is arguably the most versatile coffee base, as it can be used to create a wide range of drinks. In fact, there are 30 different types of Espresso drinks celebrated around the World.

If you’re not a fan of the strong, concentrated flavor of espresso, you can try lattes, cappuccinos, americanos, macchiatos, affogatos, and many more.

The Differences in Coffee beans and the Grind size

There is no difference between Espresso beans and drip coffee beans. You can literally use the same variety for both espresso and drip coffee.

Dark roasts are typically used for Espresso as they bring out those rich, bold, and slightly smoky flavors that pair beautifully with espresso’s thicker body.

On the drip side, you’ve got way more flexibility with the roast level. Light or Medium roasts are popular since they allow those subtle fruity and complex notes to really pop. But you can definitely use a darker roast for drip too if you’re craving something more intense and chocolatey.

The grind size used for espresso and drip coffee differs considerably. And you can’t use the same pre-ground coffee for both Espresso and Drip Coffee.

Espresso uses a very fine or powdery grind size. This allows water to extract the maximum amount of caffeine and flavor in the short brewing time.

On the other hand, the grind size for drip coffee beans is medium to medium coarse, preventing over-extraction during extended brewing time.

Is espresso healthier than coffee?

Espresso and Drip Coffee both provide similar health benefits, largely attributed to the number of antioxidants and compounds found in coffee beans.

According to multiple studies, coffee has been linked to several health benefits, which include, reducing cancer risk by 18%, and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease.

Espresso is typically easier on the stomach than drip coffee. The reason is the shorter brewing time which results in smaller extraction of stomach-sensitive compounds.

However, the high concentration of caffeine in Espresso may upset caffeine-sensitive folks.

Read a detailed guide on the benefits of Espresso

Espresso Machine vs Drip Coffee Machine

These are some differences between Espresso Machines and Drip Coffee Makers

  1. In Espresso machines, water is forced to pass through tightly packed fine coffee grounds at a pressure of 9-10 bars while in coffee machines water is dripped through medium coffee grounds at normal pressure.
  2. Espresso machines are quick they can pull a shot in a matter of seconds while drip machines require water to steep through coffee grounds for some time to extract flavors and take around 5-10 minutes.
  3. Drip coffee machines are easy to use even a beginner can brew a perfect cup of coffee using these machines while operating Espresso machines are little tricky and requires some skills.

When you use an espresso machine, you have to grind the coffee beans to perfection, tamp the grounds perfectly into the portafilter, and take control of the final yield, and a beginner can easily mess up these settings resulting in a terrible shot of Espresso.

Super-automatic Espresso machines are available though which can make things a lot easier.

Espresso machine vs drip coffee machine

What costs more?

Espresso machines are far more expensive compared to drip coffee makers as they are designed for pressurized brewing processes that require far more sophisticated machinery and build quality.

Quality drip coffee machines can be bought for under 100 dollars, while espresso machines typically start at 300 dollars and can cost more than 1000 dollars for high-quality models.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it, all the nitty gritty differences between espresso and drip coffee.

Espresso definitely provides that strong kick I need in the mornings. But drip coffee is ideal for sipping leisurely in the evenings.

Let me know in the comments if you have a favorite between espresso and drip coffee! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Also Read other Espresso Comparisons


How many grams of Coffee in a shot of Espresso vs Drip coffee?

For espresso, the coffee-to-water ratio is 1:2, around 7-9 grams for a 1 ounce shot. Whereas, for drip coffee, it’s about 1:17, around 13-15 grams for 8 oz serving.

Can you make Espresso in a Drip coffee maker?

No, you can’t make true espresso using a drip coffee maker. The key is that espresso requires 9+ bars of pressure to properly extract the flavors and aromas from finely ground beans. While drip coffee makers work at normal pressure.

Johny Morrison is a founder and content creator at Coffee About. He knows everything there is to know about coffee and loves sharing his passion with others.

You can often find him sipping a single-origin pour-over, rich French press, or pulling espresso shots at home. Johny loves full-bodied dark roasts – the bolder, the better!

As a former barista, he takes coffee equipment seriously and enjoys experimenting with the latest gear. When he’s not brewing or blogging, Johny is scouting local cafes for his next coffee fix.

1 thought on “What is the difference between Drip coffee and Espresso”

  1. I’m all about the drip life! Give me a big mug of that classic coffee taste any day. Espresso is cool and all, but it’s almost too intense for my liking.


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